How was NXT Takeover Brooklyn?
I often wonder how Vince McMahon feels about NXT, not because I question whether he thinks they can make money off the brand –they clearly can,– but because of the complaints the main roster superstars make, over all the things the NXT superstars are allowed to do; along with the fact NXT is currently the hottest wrestling brand on the planet, no matter how you spin it. NXT benefits from less exposure, shorter run times, and pre-taping numerous episodes all in one night, which allows them to write a story that will run for a month, then film it all in that one session, rinse repeat. RAW, Smackdown, etc, don’t have that kind of ability, which makes it more difficult to tell a story over the course of time, but in NXT’s defense, they plan things out, set things up to happen over time, and if something steps in the way of that story being told, they adapt, not panic. Last night was the culmination of a lot of things, with loads of payoff’s, and a few interesting developments, which made for a great night; so without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?
The night began in similar fashion –pun intended– to the last Takeover event, with Tyler Breeze having a series of models come out, dressed up, with fun catwalk music playing. What I wasn’t expecting to see, was Breeze wearing an Egyptian Pharaoh –in what I’m calling the Fabulous Pharaoh— inspired outfit:
What I did expect though, was to see Jushin Thunder Liger come out, and it be such a surreal moment, knowing it’s a WWE product, and Liger is there:
Whether this is the first and only time Liger will be on a WWE product or not, it was great to finally see him there. Liger is a legend, one that deserves a spot in the WWE Hall Of Fame if and when they decide to put him there; without Liger, we wouldn’t have a litany of moves we’ve grown used to seeing throughout the years, the man is an innovator, who has inspired at least two generations of wrestlers/sports entertainers. Enough of the history lesson though, how was Liger’s first match in WWE/NXT? Honestly, it was disappointing, probably the biggest disappointment of the night; it’s not because either man did anything necessarily bad, it was more that Liger showed his age, and the booking of the match wasn’t what any of us really expected. It seemed to play out like a “best of Liger” match, allowing him to get in a lot of his signature moves, then drop Breeze with the Liger Bomb for the 1-2-3. I didn’t think they’d bring him in to have him beat Breeze and even mentioned that Sting‘s debut has me constantly questioning whether a part-timer or first-timer would go over in a match –whereas previously, first-timers always seemed to win;– so I was convinced Breeze would find a way to overcome the legend, getting the win, after getting hit with pretty much everything Liger could throw at him. Instead, Liger only really had to deal with the Supermodel Kick, as Breeze never managed to execute the Beauty Shot finisher. While it’s cool Liger got his time in the WWE spotlight, letting the WWE Universe remember him as someone who showed up in front of the largest NXT crowd to date, and disposed of one of NXT’s brightest stars; I feel for Breeze, who continuously acts as the losing party in nearly everything he does. It’s possible we’ll get to a point where Breeze has just as much, if not more support than Dolph Ziggler, but I don’t want to see him stuck in the same hole as Ziggler, he’s got too much potential to merely be a glorified jobber for his entire career.
I will say though that Liger did get to be himself through and through, making the crowd laugh any time he got the chance:
And he did manage to turn back the clocks a few times:
I just want to make it clear that the match wasn’t bad, that it isn’t a matter of me not liking it –I did,– I was just disappointed with the overall quality of it, as I had built it up in my head; that fact wasn’t aided by the match being the opening, making me think they would go out there, set the bar, and dare everyone else on the card to live up to the show they put on. They weren’t able to really do that, but when the night progressed, it was revealed that it would have taken an immense amount of work to top the rest of the matches anyhow. Liger won’t be appearing again anytime soon, but Breeze is sticking around, so let’s see where he goes from here, and hope he doesn’t keep jobbing out to everyone. Maybe this was Breeze’s last NXT match or one of his last and his willingness to let a legend go over on him, will push him to the main roster following SummerSlam?
One prediction fell through, as a Nia Jax vignette aired just before the tag match, announcing her debut would happen soon –thus meaning not last night.– I’m a little confused on the character she seems to be playing, saying a line like, “I can disarm you with a smile,” because she doesn’t at all appear to be someone who would brag on her looks. She wears almost Thunderdome-inspired gear, is 6ft tall, and isn’t classically beautiful; but maybe she’s a character trying to undo what is considered the stereotypical beautiful woman? I don’t know. I would rather see her as a tank that rolls through her opponents, charging her way through the ranks, until she’s close to the title; granted, she would end up being another Tamina, but if Jax can talk, she’d be a more well rounded version, which I’m okay with.
Next was the Tag Team Championship match between The Vaudevillains and Team BAMF —Blake Alexa Murphy Factor,– where The Vaudevillains would enter wearing old-school trench coats and top hats, while BAMF would unveil their Iron Man inspired gear:
Who was The Vaudevillains help in restraining Alexa? Well, it wasn’t Jax…and sadly, it wasn’t Gionna Daddio either, it was:
I read about a lot of people thinking it would be her, and while I’m happy she got the chance to be at Takeover, playing a fairly big role, I still think it would have been the best spot to debut someone new, someone that they actually have signed to a developmental contract; but, with how the crowd was going nuts, screaming, “We want Blue Pants!” if someone else would have come out, they would have gotten booed like no one else, so I guess that was the right call.
I think everyone wanted to see The Vaudevillains get the tag titles, because of anyone in the entirety of NXT, those two are the ones who best represent the brand; people who play real characters, who aren’t afraid to be creative and different, along with being someone the crowd always is excited to see. The argument could be made for Enzo Amore, Big Cass, and Carmella, but that’s a team destined for the main roster, while I think The Vaudevillains will remain with NXT permanently; not because they aren’t good enough, but because I don’t think their gimmick will go over well with the majority of main roster fans. If the Lucha Dragons can fall off the face of the Earth on the main roster, The Vaudevillains don’t have a shot.
NXT did a great job in building this match, having both teams share time in the spotlight, where one would seem to be running away with things, only for the other to get a hot tag, even the odds, start to get on a roll, and then the same thing happen to them.
We’ve seen a Double Suplex/Powerbomb combo off the top rope at almost every Takeover event, but last night, The Vaudevillains outsmarted their opponents, with Simon Gotch going for the Powerbomb on the Blake & Murphy, and Aiden English having wherewithal to think ahead enough to shove them off as Gotch pushed forward, English avoided being hit with the attack as well. Blake would roll out of the ring, leaving Murphy in there on his own, which was when English hit his Swanton Bomb, grabbed Murphy’s leg for the pin, leading all of us to believe we were about to see the big moment…and then Murphy kicked out. The adrenaline rush we were on while watching the ref count the 1-2- turned into a sudden exhaustive shout of frustration when Murhpy got his shoulders up. This was when Alexa finally got involved, hopping up on the apron, getting into the ring, and approaching The Vaudevillains, with her hand up, ready to slap the crap out of the two Gentlemen, but Blue Pants slid in behind her, grabbing Alexa’s arm before she could make connection with the two men. Blue Pants took care of Alexa, leaving Murphy to toss English out of the ring, then go for a quick roll up pin on Gotch, but Gotch kicked out. Gotch would grab Murphy, trying to hit a move, but ultimately realized English was on his way back into the ring, so Gotch did a European Uppercut to the back of Murphy’s neck, setting English up for the Whirling Durvish finisher, and Gotch’s 1-2-3 victory.
The end of this was so satisfying, I’m struggling to put together the words to express how happy I felt then, and still do. I do wonder what’s next for both teams though, what direction will they take, who will they feud with? Well that was partially answered last night, after William Regal announced the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, a tournament that will take place starting in two weeks, and will lead up to the next Takeover event on October 7th, where the winners of the tournament will face The Vaudevillains for the NXT Tag Team Championship. How insanely exciting is that? NXT is finally doing something massive for one of their divisions, spending multiple weeks to build towards a huge match. I know they did a similar tournament to figure out the Number One Contender for the NXT Championship some months ago, but this will be an even bigger tournament than that one…hopefully. Who will win that tournament? My early prediction is: Jason Jordan and Chad Gable.
The match I had been waiting months to see, was next up on the card, pitting the debuting Apollo Crews, against The Perfect 10, Tye Dillinger. Dillinger came out first, sporting an almost Alberto Del Rio type look:
While Apollo may have had the most sincere entrance of any wrestler I’ve ever seen:
Apollo’s theme hit –which I liked, even if it wasn’t exactly what I was thinking it would be. I expected lyrics, but it was all instrumental stuff, but it suited him, as a hard hitting, but fun sounding track,– the Brooklyn crowd went bonkers, and he came out on the stage. His first reaction once he get to the center of the stage was a simple word: Sh**. He was blown away by what he was seeing, excited as all get out, then he took a step forward, the AC logo appeared on the ramp, he jumped back, then walked up to it, pointed, and said, “that’s me!”, looked towards the Titantron, saw another AC graphic off to the side, and said, “that’s me!” again. Apollo would go on to say, “that’s a lot of people,” ,”oh my,” and then he stood on the ramp a moment, taking it all in, before gaining his composure, regaining his swagger, and declaring, “this is my house.” That entrance was everything I love about wrestling, the memorable theme, the excitement on the face of the superstar coming out, the passion seething through every pore as they realize how big of a moment they’re in, then sucking it all in, before going to the ring and delivering. If he hadn’t been someone I was already won over by, that would have done it, all before he even got in the ring.
I will say that I think the booking of the match was done in a way that protected both men, where we didn’t see the full offense of either one, just little tidbits, along with Apollo not doing his patented pose, because Liger had done it earlier in the night; but they both left a mark. Apollo was able to display the athleticism and talent I had been talking about for months, showing people like My Fiance that this big, muscular dude, can do some of the most nimble, fast paced, athletic stuff in the business. Dillinger got in a quick shot on Apollo, then lifted his hands up, started flicking all ten fingers fingers out, getting the crowd to chant, “10, 10, 10!,” but when Dillinger locked up with Apollo, then sent Apollo to the corner, with Dillinger quickly following behind, Apollo showed his skills by grabbing around the top turnbuckle, then flipped over his charging opponent, reminiscent of Neville‘s corner escape…only…better?
Once Apollo landed, he flung his hands up, and declared, “10!”, which sent the crowd into a frenzy of chants. For Apollo to get the reaction he did, using Dillinger’s own gimmick? Awesome. These two worked well together, well enough that I want to see a few more; but my one big complaint, was the amount of holds Dillinger kept applying, slowing the match down, and trying to work Apollo over. From a competition standpoint, it makes total sense, it also tells a decent story, with Apollo having to deal with an opponent that’s trying to eliminate one of his greatest strengths, but in a debut match, fans typically want to see a little more than we did. In the end, Apollo was able to do his Gorilla Press Drop and Standing Shooting Star Press finisher for the win, to a huge pop from the crowd; Apollo Nation has arrived.
Baron Corbin and Samoa Joe was a clash of titans, something we all saw coming, but when these two started punching one another, slamming their forearms on each other’s necks and faces, then Joe began slapping Corbin senseless, it became a bigger fight than anticipated. What was an interesting choice, to me, was Corbin at no point managing to pull out the End Of Days finisher, something I think will be brought up in the coming weeks. I’m thinking Corbin will mention that he said, “no one gets up from the End Of Days,” and he’ll go on to talk about how he never hit it, which means Joe didn’t truly prove Corbin wrong, thus giving the two big men at least one more match. I really liked this match, both because I enjoy seeing the two of them compete –no matter who it’s against,– and because I felt like they did a good job telling the story they did; of course it didn’t hurt that they pulled off huge moments like these:
But Corbin got overzealous after that final Falling Chokeslam, attempting to get a leverage pin, but Joe was ready for it:
After locking the Coquina Clutch in, Joe held on tightly, until Corbin passed out –as predicted.– As I said above, I think this is only the first match between them, that Corbin will call out Joe, bringing up the End Of Days point, Joe will sigh and give in to the challenge, saying Corbin is just asking to get choked out again. Joe helped to make Corbin look like a million bucks, enough so that the crowd didn’t get on Corbin like they typically do; I feel like Corbin really showed a lot of improvement in this one, and I hope the rest of the WWE Universe did as well.
Stephanie McMahon came out to announce the co-main event, introducing both Bayley and Sasha Banks;
Who wouldn’t be exploding with excitement upon seeing Bayley with a herd of Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tubemen and Sasha pulling up in a black SUV, surrounded by intimidating security guards?
I want to say this before I go any further: I was nervous about this match, with practically everyone knowing Sasha was dropping the title, I didn’t think the match would be very successful, as the conclusion was well known going into it…but they stole the show…again. NXT is going to miss Sasha Banks, the brand is far lesser without her on there, as evidenced by this match. Bayley is talented and she’ll make for a good champion, but Sasha was the full package in that division. One of the things that will be seriously missed? A woman who plays to the heel character so much so, that she rips the face’s wrist brace and tape off, then starts slamming the injured hand on the steel steps outside the ring, then going so far as to place the injured hand in between the steps and the ring, and kicking the steps so they crush the girls hand. Sasha proved herself to be far more vicious than any of us may have thought going in, targeting Bayley’s known injury, trying to keep Bayley down below the champ’s level. The problem for Sasha though, was Bayley’s drive to win this match, had absolutely no limits; fighting through everything The Boss could throw at her, constantly pushing through, regardless of the pain she was experiencing. Sasha went out with style though, launching herself over the top rope –and over the referee– early on:
How could you not get behind a match where they’re both so willing to put their bodies on the line? NXT got women’s wrestling over with the WWE fans because of the talent level possessed in the division, along with the brands willingness to give them plenty of time; but it takes ability to go out there and deliver, something these ladies do every time out, and I’m a little ashamed I had doubts as to the quality of match they could have, regardless of the drama involved in regard to the finish. Sasha controlled the vast majority of the match, causing Bayley to have to fight from the bottom, time and time again. They each took turns with monster moves, which kept the crowd invested:
But it was when the match started to wind down, that things got intense. Sasha took advantage of Bayley’s injury once again, only this time, Sasha did so while trying to cause Bayley to tap out to the Bank Statement submission hold:
But when Sasha went to shove off the bottom rope, to position the hold in the middle of the ring –and keep Bayley from breaking the hold,– during the roll over, Bayley countered the submission, turning it on Sasha:
Neither one of them would tap though, but what did end up happening was Bayley thinking she had things well in hand, only to find out Sasha had some devious plans in mind:
The painful fall still wasn’t enough to count Bayley out of this match though, which led to Sasha thinking she could put Bayley on the opposite corner, going for a suplex or something along those lines, just to see Bayley put out all of her energy in a quick burst attack:
When Sasha got to her feet, Bayley rushed over, grabbed Sasha, and did her second Bayley To Belly of the night, only this time, the 1-2-3 was counted, and Bayley became our new NXT Women’s Champion. After the match, Charlotte and Becky Lynch appeared, congratulating Bayley on the victory, until Sasha came to, approached Bayley, and the two competitors both hugged, cried, and celebrated together, until all four women were standing in the ring, holding up four fingers, and reminding everyone who they are: the Four Horsewomen. What’s sad is knowing Bayley will be on her own from here on out, with the other three heading to the main roster for good –Charlotte and Becky Lynch were in a match earlier in the night, which we’ll see on the Network soon, but that will likely be the last time we see any of them on NXT TV anytime soon.– Bayley will hold her own, there’s little doubt there, but these four revolutionized the division, both for NXT, and for the main roster, so it means a lot more when they’re split apart. Whoever takes the title from Bayley, has some huge shoes to fill, and better be good enough to help continue the trend of the NXT women stealing the show.
The main event was finally upon us, but there was no time left once the two men made it to the ring. I don’t know about everyone else, but I personally was terrified we were going to get a convoluted ending, something like a run-in or for them to end things abruptly, but when Byron Saxton and Corey Graves discussed it, Byron mentioned the fact the event would be over if it were a PPV, but Graves pointed out that it was on their own Network, so the show is being extended; once that was brought up, my fears were put to rest. As for the entrances, Kevin Owens had his standard one, but Finn Bálor upped his entrance game with Takeover Brooklyn, revealing a secret we didn’t know he was hiding until right then…the man can friggin’ teleport:
We saw a creepy reveal on NXT last week, where Bálor’s theme played, but then he appeared on the turn buckle in the ring; but this one took the cake. If they can do stuff like this with Bálor at WrestleMania, where he appears all over the arena, until he finally shows back up on the ramp, then his supernatural abilities will be solidified as one of the coolest of all time. Speaking of his theme, I freaked out when the demonic chant kicked things off, because that’s my favorite entrance theme of his; when that chant starts, it sets the tone for creepiness, then the heartbeat starts pumping, then the slow build music of his, it adds so much to the atmosphere of things. I was sad when they didn’t use it in Tokyo, so I questioned if it would be brought back, but I’m so glad it did, because now I know it’s sticking around.
The funniest part of the night may have been when the lights came up and we saw Owens sitting in a chair off to the side of commentary, watching Bálor’s entrance. Soon after, the bell rang, the announcer introduced the two men, and then things got concerning, when some fans chucked a few streamers towards the ring, causing security to track them down, and escort them out. When I was watching live, I couldn’t really tell what was being chanted, but upon a second watch, they were chanting, “let them stay” as security was walking them towards the exit; then the crowd started chanting, “welcome back” during the match, when security actually escorted the fans back to their seats for the remainder of the show. I was scared for a second because I didn’t know what was thrown, then realized it was a streamer, laughed, and made the comment that someone just got kicked out; if you go to a show, don’t throw stuff unless the company instructs you to, it endangers the talent, the crew, your fellow fans, everything.
Anyway, these two went after one another guns blazing, with Owens getting the upper hand early on, then finding ways to uphold his dominance. Owens being the bigger man, this turn of events wasn’t all that surprising, but what was, was seeing Bálor only get an offensive shot in every couple of minutes. Eventually things evened out, allowing each man to unleash hell on the other:
There was little doubt during or after this match, that they put everything on the line, risking life and limb, and not caring about themselves, as long as the show they put on was incredible; which it assuredly was. Owens and Bálor delivered the classic we all expected out of them, something they didn’t entirely deliver on in Japan, but definitely did last night. I can’t say enough about this match, other than to suggest watching it again, and again, repeatedly for the next several days. If it weren’t for how all-out they went, I would say the women’s match was the match of the night, but Owens and Bálor went above and beyond the call of duty, showcasing the talent NXT possesses, along with making sure we all acknowledge Bálor as the rightful champ, once all was said and done. The Demon King is here to stay ladies and gentlemen, and if you get in his way…well, just look what he did to Owens:
NXT Takeover was one hell of an event, proving that NXT can constantly one up itself, despite our inability to grasp the idea that this product could get any better than it already is. That being said, I give Takeover Brooklyn, an:
+ That main event
+ That co-main event
+ Baron Corbin and Samoa Joe. Mainly Corbin showing vast improvements, but Joe looking like a certified monster in the process
+ The Vaudevillains finally capturing gold
– Liger vs Breeze was a bit of a letdown
– Sad that The Vaudevillains secret weapon, turned out to be Blue Pants, rather than an upcoming talent
That’s The Lowedown on NXT Takeover Brooklyn, thanks for reading and remember to watch more wrestling!
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The future is bright and full of suplexes!